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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

I56                            THE GAY GENIUS

The moon does wax, the moon does wane,

And so men meet and say goodbye.
I only pray our life be long,

And our souls together heavenward fly!"

The above poem, "Mid-Autumn Moon," composed in 1076 at
Michow, was a tsc, a song written to music, as has been explained
It may be interesting to analyse the tonal pattern and formal structure
of such a poem. Like all Chinese poems, the tse uses word tones in-
stead of accent as the basis of rhythm. The word tones are divided
into two classes: First, the even and sustained tone, corresponding to
English open syllables or syllables ending in liquid consonants (lfm,n)
and second, the shifting (rising or dropping) and abrupt tones, corres-
ponding in tonal quality to English syllables ending in stop consonants
(P**A)- The difference in tone between the two is roughly seen in that
between song and soc^ or between seen and sic\, or very roughly
between the end of a question and the end of a period. It is necessary
to understand this tonal basis of Chinese poetry, which gives rise to
its musical character. The Chinese language is essentially mono-
syllabic; moreover, most of the time, auxiliary particles like be, should,
and, to, of, the, a, which furnish a great part of the unaccented syllables
in English poetry, are omitted. This brevity of the word gives a
marked syllabic weight, convenient for the development of a feeling
of the tonal scheme. The music of a Chinese poem therefore, whether
in the loose "ancient style", or in the precise "Tang poem", or in the
still more precisely regulated "&<?", may be said to consist entirely in
the subtle and varied contrast and counterplay of word tones. A basi*
rule, for instance, is that when a rhyme word is in a sustained tone, all
the unrhymed lines must end in the opposite tones, and vice versa.

Taking "Mid-Autumn Moon" as an example, one may let "o" stand
for the sustained tone and "x" for the shifting or abrupt tones. It is
quite possible to get the tonal pattern as shown below by clinking a
glass for an "o" and tapping the table for an "x", letting each letter
represent one musical note in the pattern:

First Stanza                                  Second Stanza

1.    ox/oox/                           i.   ()xox/o
xx/xoo/          R                    xx/xoo/          R

2.     OO/XX/OX/                           2.    OO/XX/OX/

xx/xoo/    R        xx/xoo/    R

3. xx/oo/xx/        3. xx/oo/xx/
xx/oo/ox/.        '  xx/oo/ox/

* xx/x o o /    R        xx/xoo/    R

4. x x / x o x /                             4. xx/oox/
ox/xoo/    R        ox/xoo/    R